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Bush Meat and What Zoos Are Doing

by amanda on August 24, 2009 · 0 comments

in misc

Eventually, I’ll get a constant update schedule for this blog.  I’m thinking once a week is plausible, but summer is a tough time because I’m actually outside a lot in the summer! I’m going to Costa Rica next month and I plan to blog about my trip here, complete with photos.  I need to redo the photo section of this site too.  It’s way to bulky.  If I have time to go to the San Jose zoo I will, but I’m not really interested in zoos this trip!

Anyway, I saw a story on the bush meat crisis in Madagascar on National Geographic this morning and I thought about this site.

Since a March coup d’etat in the island country, long-nurtured conservation measures have quickly fallen by the wayside—making lemurs the targets of hunting gangs.

The criminals are fueling demand for a new bush-meat delicacy in the country’s upscale restaurants, according to the nonprofit Conservation International.

No one knows how many lemurs have been killed, but species such as the golden crowned sifaka—considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature—are being targeted.

Horrible news.  It’s almost shocking that upscale restaurants are serving endangered lemur meat.  Shocking news like this is one way zoos can really bring home conservation.   I’ve talked to a lot of people about bush meat in my time at a zoo and many never knew it was real.  Generally they get mad when you tell them about it or scoff “That doesn’t happen anymore.”

It’s one of the most disgusting, most “hidden” aspects of conservation. Though groups have been pushing to publicize the issue for years, I’ve seen a recent upsurge in knowledge about the awful practice.  Why is that? It’s probably because I’ve also seen a recent upsurge in educational displays about bush meat in zoo primate areas.  The AZA even has even created a Bush Meat Crisis Task Force (this was created in 1999, but it seems like the trend for zoos to display info is more recent).

So, who cares if people know about this practice? Well, it’s true that most people will just be shocked and disgusted (I’ve even seen one mom rush a child away from a particularly graphic bush meat display at one zoo), some actually will pick up the cause.  It may just by a donation to an organization (which most zoos will supply information for, some even have donation boxes setup outside the exhibits, which is a great idea) or even by telling other people who will pick up the cause and learn more.

Knowledge is power.  If all a zoo does is teach people about the crisis,  that very powerful.  At least people are talking about it now, and it’s not a dirty little secret.  However, if out of every 100 people who cross by an exhibit about bush meat everyday, even one person is inspired to act or even donate, imagine how powerful that would be.  This is what zoos have the power to do. The not only serve to educate, but to inspire people to act.

More about bush meat. How you can help (AZA).

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